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“The local skate community is part and parcel of the shop” Justin 'Syd' Sydenham explains “It’s all one thing really, a family.”
If you've spent any time in Bristol with a skateboard, or indeed, have met anyone from the city on their travels, you’ll be aware of how true this statement is. Fifty Fifty is the physical hub of the Bristol skateboarding scene. The shop serves as a hangout, a meet up spot and also as somewhat of an incubator of talent and new brands from the local area.
“Bear Myles, who is Spex’s (old skool Bristol Legend) kid, can skate every inch of the Deaner (Dean Lane Skatepark) and do more tricks in that place that anyone’s ever done I think.” The enthusiasm with which Syd speaks about the up and coming Bristol skaters says a lot. Whether it’s born and bred Bristolians or transplants such as Clever Ryan.
“Clev and those guys moving here means that every time I go to the Deaner there’s a full-blown gnarly session going on. There was a lull for a while, everyone would skate the top bit and not the bottom where all the transition is.”
“Francis Peters, too, he’s really broken out onto the U.K scene quite heavily this year.” These are just a few of the names Syd spoke so positively about when we visited him, something which illustrates the depth and quality of the current Bristol scene that the shop has helped to encourage and nurture.
Companies such as Skateboard Cafe have played a huge part in this too, alongside the newer brands emerging from the scene such as Ollie Lock’s Alcohol Blanket and even Interceptor, which current shop worker Sam Nobbs is involved in.
Fifty Fifty, particularly in the case of Cafe and Alcohol Blanket, has provided a launchpad for these brands. “They’re not in-house brands” Syd tells us “but they’re super affiliated with Fifty and both started here. It’s good to see.”
The shop’s old location was opposite from College Green, a legendary flat ground spot since the Flynn and Stalker days. Through sheer coincidence, as the skate scene migrated away to a new plaza spot, Fifty Fifty moved too. “It just so happens that the skate scene moved to the new plaza spot and we moved at the same time, moved with the scene basically.”
This happy coincidence is one that’s well deserved, Fifty has been at the heart of the Bristol skateboarding scene for over twenty years and the scene has never looked healthier.
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